Holiday shopping tips

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The holidays are jolly if you take steps to control waste and overspending. Consumer Action provides these tips to help you have a merry holiday.

  • Budget amounts you can afford for gifts and holiday extras, such as tree, wrapping, host gifts and entertaining at home—and stick to the program.
  • Try to pay as you go with cash or checks, and not use credit cards.
  • List current balance and APR on all your credit cards and carry it with you. Write down all new credit card purchases.
  • Don't forget to comparison shop!
  • Always ask about refund policies. Save receipts. Ask if the store has "gift receipts" that don't have the price on them.
  • Save original tags and packaging if you think the item may need to be exchanged or returned.
  • Surf on-line for bargains, free shipping offers, etc. But make sure the site is "secure" before you give out your credit card number.
  • Shop at discount stores (like Ross, TJ Maxx, Big Lots, Marshalls etc.) to get brand-name items for much less.
  • If you shop by catalog, remember that it will cost more to ship to multiple addresses—but the savings in time for wrapping, post office etc. may be worth it to you.
  • Postage on greetings cards can cost a lot more if they are smaller or larger than usual. Send postcards—they take less postage.
  • Watch out for those deferred interest deals ("zero financing")—you can end up paying all the back interest if item is not paid for in full by due date.
  • Make sure the toys you buy are safe and not under recall by following media reports and Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
  • Make sure people really want the items you give. Unwanted gifts and cheap disposable items create waste and damage the environment.

If you have many people to give gifts to:

  • Draw names
  • Make homemade items shown in many crafts and food magazines
  • Offer services such as baby sitting to good friends
  • Ask them over for dinner—even after the holidays
  • Volunteer your time or give to their favorite charity.

Be safe:

  • Use a fanny pack or your pockets instead of a purse.
  • Park in well-lit areas
  • At crowded malls, have a back up plan for meeting lost family members
  • Be careful how you dispose of credit or debit card receipts

In preparation for next year:

  • Save wrapping and ribbons
  • Buy greetings cards on sale
  • Start your own "Holiday Savings Club" to put away money for next year

OKAY! So maybe we didn't think of everything... We invite you to send YOUR best holiday shopping tips to our Editor at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).




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